Studies sponsored by the tobacco industry indicating that secondhand smoke is not dangerous may have been faked, according to one of Congress' most outspoken critics of smoking.

Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., said Tuesday his assertion was based on affidavits obtained from three former employees of Healthy Buildings International, an industry-sponsored firm in Fairfax, Va.They said in the affidavits that company officials routinely doctored test results to make it appear that cigarette emissions inside office buildings were lower than actual measurements.

HBI President Gray Robertson denied the accusation and noted that one of the employees is suing the company because he was fired several years ago. Robertson cited studies by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other government agencies that had comparable results to his own.

Robertson said the conflict comes in the interpretation of the data because his scientists do not believe certain levels of nicotine and particulates are as dangerous as government scientists do.

Indeed, the report by Waxman, outgoing chairman of a House Energy and Commerce Committee's health subcommittee, said HBI has argued on numerous occasions that the impact of second-hand smoke does "not appear to be supported by its own data."

Waxman, however, emphasized that he could not conclude whether the allegations against HBI were true without further investigation and urged Congress to try to settle the question.

Waxman's replacement as subcommittee chairman, Rep. Michael Bilirakis, R-Fla., promised to look at the reports.

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